Male Soprano Highs


Martin Pearlman & Boston Baroque’s upcoming release of Mozart: Arias For Male Soprano has scored a major coup for period practice authenticity. It is also no doubt a first for Telarc, and a fitting showcase for one of the relatively few male sopranos on today’s circuit, Michael Maniaci.

Whether Manianci, who has already sung at Teatro la Fenice in Venice, Gran Theatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Metropolitan Opera and a host of other U.S. houses, has an instrument that accurately reflects the sound of the castrati for whom Mozart fashioned the leads in several of his operas, is a matter of speculation. To these ears, the sound is closer to the sound of falsetto-based countertenors rather than boy sopranos. What is beyond question is that he sings with remarkable fluidity, producing the high C at the conclusion of Mozart’s great early motet, Exsultate, Jubilate, with an ease that will prove the envy of many an aspiring soprano.

Vocal lovers will doubtless head to the two arias from La Clemenza di Tito, and listen closely to “Parto, ma tu ben mio.” A favorite of mezzo coloraturas with the high extensions of Janet Baker and Marilyn Horne, this aria expresses love, fidelity and revenge via long-breathed, legato phrases and fiendishly difficult coloratura runs. Listening to Maniaci’s emotional and technical expression at full throttle, and comparing it to that of lower-voiced countertenors such as David Daniels, will make for hours of fascinating listening. Look for it Jan. 26.